Mat Schulze, Director of the Waterloo Centre for German Studies, University of Waterloo
No Language Wall Between East and West Germany: The forty years of the two German states have left some traces in the German language. Mat Schulze says that these are most obvious in the vocabulary. However, if one considers the small number of East-West differences in the context of the entire German language, then it becomes clear that the commonalities outweigh the differences. The German language united its speakers in East and West and did not separate them. Language change in the twenty years after the fall of the Berlin Wall – initiated and experience by Easterners and Westerners alike – contributed further to the linguistic commonalities in a united Germany
Elena Pnevmonidou, Assistant Professor at the Department of Germanic and Slavic Studies, University of Victoria
Questioning Assumptions about Gender and the Legacy of the GDR: Elena Pnevmonidou discusses the status of women in Germany. While the economic recovery in many East German regions is an ongoing process that still leaves many women economically disadvantaged, she argues that reunification has resulted to a certain extent in a questioning of assumptions about gender and femininity. East German women in particular have an important cultural role to play due to their ability to reflect critically on both the GDR and the new German nation through the prism of their very different biographies and resulting conceptualizations of gender.
Kurt Huebner, Director of the Institute for European Studies, University of British Columbia
Economic Unification after the Fall of the Wall: Is the bottle half full or half empty?: Twenty years after the Fall of the Wall the bottle can be seen as one third empty or two thirds full. Kurt Huebner argues that early wrong decisions locked-in the Neue Laender into a slow growth path of economic development and that it may need another generation to make the promised catch-up happen.
Oliver Schmidtke, UVic European Studies Scholar and Jean Monnet Chair in European History and Politics, University of Victoria
Triggers for the East-West divide after the Fall of the Wall: Even after twenty years united Germany still suffers from an East-West divide. Oliver Schmidtke argues that one of the critical factors creating and nurturing this divide is a fundamental shortcoming in how the unification process was organized: German unification came about as a union between two very unequal partners. As a result, many East Germans never developed of sense of ‘ownership’ with view to the united Germany.
Laurence McFalls, Professor of Political Science and Director of the Canadian Centre for German and European Studies, Université de Montréal
False Memory Syndrome and the Fall of the Wall: After twenty years memories of the dramatic events in 1989 have increasingly become projections by today’s political actors and commentators. Laurence McFalls describes how our recollection of the fall of the Wall is shaped by a host of competing and, at times, misleading interpretations. Framing it in terms of a false memory syndrome he suggests that the current festivities for the 20th anniversary tend to miss the essence of what happened in October and November 1989.